MOULTRIE, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp advised churches against holding regular services to protect members. As Moultrie was no exception, churches throughout the city found a solution to get their gospel: streaming.
Though not all joined in.
Macedonia Baptist Church announced it wouldn’t hold services on March 22; the church hasn’t contacted The Observer about any services since. Riverside Holiness Church said it wouldn’t hold services until after April 1.
Others began capitalizing on streaming their services online almost as soon as the advisory was out. Some churches already streamed services online, but it just wasn’t the priority.
Trinity Baptist Church was already streaming its services when it closed its sanctuary to the public. It’s had six years of doing so at least, secretary Misti Cato said, and started strictly streaming March 15.
Cato said Trinity will continue to do so until Kemp advises otherwise.
“We’re making do as best as we can,” she said.
For its service, Pastor Matt Marston, Music Minister John Grobe and the musicians — the pianist and organist — join in the sanctuary for the morning worship service from 11 a.m. to noon.
There’s been mainly positive feedback.
“I know there were some folks that were sharing pictures online of their family watching together,” she said.
The process wasn’t the smoothest for all churches who’d previously streamed though.
Dr. Richard Gillespie, interim head pastor of First Presbyterian Church, said the church has streamed its services on Youtube since he came to it two years ago. Search Moultrie First Presbyterian Church Live and you’ll find it.
In its inception, only about a dozen people came, but the number grew week by week as the church streamed live at 11 a.m. every Sunday.
So, in theory, this wasn’t a hard move to make streaming the only version.
“It was just a matter of figuring out what kind of service would work,” Gillespie said, saying the first Sunday was an experiment. “It’ll be like preaching on the radio.”
The only people in the sanctuary were Gillespie, the director of music, the director of education, the pianist and the recorder.
However, when 11 a.m. came on Sunday, technical issues arose. Instead of a Facebook or Youtube post of the service live, First Presbytetian found itself experiencing connection issues.
“When hurricane evacuations have forced thousands of citizens to flee their homes, the Interstates have come to a halt,” the church’s web post read. “The internet is the same...everyone using, expect slowdowns.”
So, they just recorded the service session and posted it on the church’s Facebook page the next day finding support in lieu of faults.
Moultrie First United Methodist Church had never streamed and originally wasn’t going to.
Senior Pastor Stephen B. Grantham announced the suspension of all religious services early last week via the church’s website.
“There are no active cases of the virus in Colquitt Co., but, if one were to infect an individual, we do not want to be responsible for passing it along to another human being,” Grantham wrote, stating the church didn’t have streaming capabilities at the time.
Grantham said that the church staff would evaluate and reassess the situation around the middle of the week. By March 18, he addressed the church with its first-ever video.
The 61-year-old pastor had only recently found out he was in a high at-risk group for COVID-19.
“I’ve never been in an at-risk group before, but I am now,” he said in the video. “That realization pulled up a little anxiety in me.”
He noted others may be experiencing similar or other feelings in the emotional spectrum as the state continues into its social isolation.
“Remember this,” he said. “God does not cause these things to happen. God does act in the midst of these things when they are happening to his people.”
And with that, Grantham announced that the church will be holding a Facebook Live morning service at 9 a.m. March 22.
It went relatively well, he said.
“We had well over 400 views,” Grantham said referencing there were seven people putting the service together in the sanctuary. “It was a brand new experience for us.”
Grantham had experience as a television preacher, so the camera was nothing new for him. The church not so much. Now, they’re looking at a permanent live-streaming option for future services.
There was an overwhelming sense of relief from the congregation to see their church live-streamed, Grantham said.
“The ones who viewed and commented were very, very happy and thrilled that they could witness that and worship with us at home,” he regaled. “One lady had her two daughters sitting at the counter, eating waffles and she texted us that waffles and worship are going together in her house.”
It was a sense of joy for him as he saw a reconnection to his church after a week without service.
First United Methodist Church, along with Trinity Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church, will continue to live-stream their services Sunday, March 29.
Other churches live-streaming or recording their services include:
• Heritage Church, streaming through Facebook Live at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
• First Baptist Church, recording and posting to its site and Facebook page
• Lifespring Community Church, streaming through Facebook Live on Wednesday at 6:30-7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.-noon.
• Calvary Baptist Church, streaming through Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
• Moultrie Church of God, streaming through Facebook Live at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
• Mother Easter Baptist Church, recording and posting on its site and Facebook page.